The Bombardier (San Francisco magazine)
Danny Haber is building millennial-friendly, algorithm-enhanced developments in West Oakland. Are they signs of an impending invasion or just...houses?
On a drizzly afternoon in March, Danny Haber is walking down 24th Street in West Oakland, giving a tour of two of his new apartment developments, when he pauses mid-step and turns to look over his shoulder. “You see that?” he says, a bit of edge to his voice. A car slows down as it drives past us. “It looks like Jonah’s car. Sometimes he just sits out here in that Volvo.”
Jonah is Jonah Strauss, the 38-year-old founder of the Oakland Warehouse Coalition and Haber’s most vocal adversary. A former resident of the 24th Street building that Haber’s company, oWow, bought and is redeveloping into 16 apartments, Strauss has described Haber’s developments as “gentrification bombs.” “As if the subprime mortgage crisis wasn’t enough, you now have Danny Haber preying on the neighborhood,” he says. (As for whether Strauss was stalking Haber in his car, he says he wasn’t: “I have no desire to interact with him in person.”)
The car having passed by, Haber continues his tour. “This was empty and blighted,” he says, pointing to a redbrick warehouse with a wood barrier surrounding it. On 23rd Street, construction crews are hammering away inside an adjacent 27,000-square-foot warehouse that used to be home to anarchist publisher AK Press. Dozens of apartments have been framed out with wood beams, and a large courtyard has been carved out of the building’s interior.